Have you ever had a death in the family, but felt like you couldn't talk to your friends or support group about it? Maybe they just dont understand, or they've never gone through that anguish before. Have you ever lost someone to suicide? Many people have, but many others also do not know what it's like to lose a dear friend.
I once asked 150 people this simple question... If someone you dont know, asked you to listen to their problems for only 5 minutes, would you be willing to? 143 said yes. You see, people are seemingly hardwired to help others, if the opportunity presents itself. But not as many are willing to go too far out of their way to do it. Not many will go to the inner city to clean graffiti or build a home, but what if they just had to pick up their phone? On average, Americans alone spend roughly 4 hours a day on their phone .
Over the past 7 years, I have made many friends in the military, both as a service member, Wounded Warrior Project alumni member, and civilian DoD contractor. If you ask those who've served, the brotherhood is above all else. You make friends for life. You're always there for each other whenever you can be. No matter what, you put your brothers and sisters before yourself.
Now what happens when you transfer, PCS (permanent change of station) or separate from the military? You now live thousands of miles from those people you created such strong bonds with. What if you needed someone to talk to? You see, all too often, veterans go without treatment for issues such as PTSD or other mental health disorders. They rarely turn to their families, whom once knew them the best, because they feel their families simply wouldn't understand. That isn't the service member's fault, nor their family's fault. It just is what it is.
Personally, I have seen this first hand. Unfortunately, I have lost 6 friends, brothers in blue, good men that I served with. In some cases, you never would have known something was wrong. In others, they felt they couldn't reach out to anyone. Just recently, a veteran walked into the VA in Texas, and while in the waiting room, took his own life. This is an avoidable tragedy. I, myself, have struggled with the mental anguish of being out of the military, and trying to find that sense of fulfillment I once had. That is why I propose this initiative.
My goal is to create a mobile application that connects people with mental health concerns, all over the nation, and even throughout the world. This is for those who feel they have nobody to talk to. For those who feel that their friends simply wouldnt understand what they're going through.
I use the following example;
Peter has been in a troubled relationship. He and his wife argue one evening, and she tells him she is leaving. Now, instead of talking to one of his closest friends about it, he decides to shut down, and turn to his inner thoughts. Inevitably, he commits suicide before his wife returns to the residence. Unfortunately, this is a true story. Though my friends name was not Peter, these events did transpire.
Now why wouldn't he talk to his closest friends? I have spent enough time around others, listening to their problems to notice patterns. For example, if you've ever confided in someone about a bad day you were having, did they listen with the intent to hear you, or did they listen with the intent to respond? You see, human beings are programmed to think of responses to continue communication, but even though its almost a subconcious action, they inadvertently cut off their partners words while thinking of their own.
Another common action is for people to turn it into a bit of a competition .They might say "Oh, well you think that's bad, but I've had to deal with this, this, and this..." Or my personal experience "Suck it up, butter cup." You see, the way I see it is everyone deals with trauma differently. You might feel just as bad about your dog dying, as your friend does about their grandparent dying. Trauma hits everyone differently and in this day and age, where everyone is told to "deal with it" we have never seen so many suicides in the military. Numbers have hit record highs in active duty service members as well as veterans. 1 in 5 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD as well as an estimated 1 in 3 of the Vietnam war vets.
With the struggle of financial responsibility on the service member or veteran to get help, this simple platform could be the bridge to a new age of social networking that allows anybody, not just veterans, to connect with people of similar circumstance. To share in their experiences, anonymously or free of judgement, one on one in an open dialogue, and possibly create new and lasting bonds with people who share in your experience much like military members do.
Teenagers, LGBTQ, veterans, this platform transcends every social niche and would allow people of any background to connect for what we are all programmed to do, at our core... Help each other.
Because at the end of the day, with suicides and mental illness at record highs, we are all, in some way, wounded without.